President George W. Bush: Resources for the President's Team The White House
President George W. Bush meets with Dan Bartlett, center, and Josh Bolten in the Oval Office Jan. 9, 2003.  White House photo by Eric Draper.
The Deputy Director for Mgmt
PMA updates, best practices, and general information.
Grading Implementation of the PMA.
Human Capital
Initiative updates, best practices, and general information.
Commercial Services Management
Initiative updates, best practices, and general information.
Improving Financial Performance
Initiative updates, best practices, and general information.
Initiative updates, best practices, and general information.
Performance Improvement
Initiative updates, best practices, and general information.
Sharing Best Practices
Stories of achieving breaktrough results in government.
The Five Initatives

Commercial Services Management

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

How do you know you're making progress with competitive sourcing? Simple: if you're realizing savings from competitions you've completed. Following through on commitments in this area means figuring out what your folks do, assessing the commercial areas where the private sector does the same thing, and then unleashing both your people and entrepreneurs to start working to streamline operations. May the best group win.

At this point, one year later, I've seen it all: the good, the bad and the ugly. It's great seeing so much time and energy spent on managing the workforce and looking for efficiencies. Working hand-in-hand with the human resources folks, managers are now asking the right questions - with answers increasingly leading towards decisions to compete. The best cure for monopoly is competition - whether we're talking about printing, IT services or grass cutting.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    Learn what successful Agencies are doing to address their Competitive Sourcing Challenges:
    Challenge:    Meeting the President's challenge to subject activities to the pressures of competition.
    Solution:    Find an activity everyone agrees is commercial in nature, conduct a big, nationwide competition, and allow the government to create a more efficient operation while giving entrepreneurs and workers in the private sector a chance to help.
    Challenge:    Working hard without making progress
    Solution:    Agency and OMB teams should communicate frequently.
    Challenge:    How to improve a procedure that confounds government employees, managers and private citizens
    Solution:    Bring in government experts, review testimony and comments of interested parties, question everything, delete, modify and amend until the finished product is better. Put out for comments, take them into account and get a result: a process for bringing real competition to government activities.
  1. The Good: The Department of Transportation has had some difficulty getting off the ground with this initiative. OMB's Mid-session review highlighted the difficulty. The war against terrorism and the creation of the Transportation Security Agency impacted the Department making it difficult to achieve much progress. However, DOT, particularly the FAA, has moved forward with one of the most ambitious competitive sourcing initiatives in government. They have decided to take a hard look at a function that is commercial in nature to determine if it can be done better and at a lower cost. They're starting to analyze Flight Service Stations, which provide a range of services such as providing weather briefings for general aviation pilots. In spite of the challenges of a nationwide study in 58 separate locations, the FAA is methodically moving forward in a way that ensures fairness to all parties.

  2. The Bad: Sometimes unnecessary stress can be prevented if the team communicates its progress with us at OMB and asks for help. Sometimes, agencies are making progress but don't let us know what they're doing. We thought one agency [I'm not naming names], was not doing enough to subject their activities to competition. In fact, the agency laid the groundwork for future success by hiring consultants to help manage an ambitious competitive sourcing agenda. We were not aware of the latest developments, so we couldn't give the agency the credit they deserved. So the bottom line is that we need to keep up a good line of communication among agencies so everyone agrees on what progress we're making. If the agency and OMB management teams keep talking, we can avoid some of the pitfalls of the sourcing initiative.

  3. The Ugly: Everyone agrees that the current process we use to conduct competitions - the A-76 process -- is difficult to implement and, frankly, to understand. A top-to-bottom review was undertaken by a team of agency experts and policy officials who reviewed comments submitted over the years, but most recently by the General Accounting Office's Commercial Activities Panel. In the end, OMB developed a streamlined document that demands more competition by agencies by using a process that demands accountability of those who are in charge of running it. By improving the format, using the common language of procurement, adding time-limits, encouraging centralization, the much-maligned process will be better positioned to serve the taxpayer. Stay tuned.

Yours truly,

Angela Styles

The Five Initatives:
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